Roberto Hernandez wasn't very good today. I wasn't really asking him to be very good, I just wanted him to not be bad, and just like Maxwell Smart, he missed it by that much. It was a day of fours -- he gave up four runs on four hits and lasted four innings. He also walked three and struck out two. If Hernandez had lasted maybe six or even five innings with that line, I'd be OK with it. It's not good, but it's not game-ruining. But Hernandez only lasted four innings and 80 pitches. He was lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the fifth inning (a pinch hitter who struck out on three pitches with two men in scoring position).
Of course, Hernandez pitching just four innings meant that the Phillies needed at least four innings from their bullpen. Ethan Martin pitched two innings, and served up a two run homer to Jay Bruce after walking Brandon Phillips to lead off the inning. After that, Martin calmed down and retired all three batters in his second inning of work. Justin De Fratus picked up after that, and pitched two scoreless, hitless innings. Since being called up on May 25 he's pitched nine scoreless innings over eight appearances, allowing five hits, one walk, and striking out nine. Hell yes, JDF.
The ball was flying today for the Phils, and just like last night the offense wasn't a problem. They notched 11 hits and blasted three homers. Marlon Byrd hit the first one for two runs in the second inning, his ninth of the year. Carlos Ruiz hit just his second homer of the year in the sixth inning, giving him his first RBI since May 17. And Jimmy Rollins hit one too, his eighth, bringing him just six hits away from setting the new all-time hits record for the Phillies. Domonic Brown didn't homer, but he did have a three-hit day. Domonic Brown hits earn him smiles, and so I owe him three smiles today. Keep working for my approval, Domonic! You're really getting there!
I'd also like to report that Chase Utley had one hit today and is now hitting .319. I repeat, after playing 56 out of 60 games this year, Chase Utley is hitting .319. This is a real thing that is happening and not a dream I'm having. Probably.
You may be wondering why the Phillies didn't win if they had all those hits. Hell, I watched the game and I'm wondering that myself. It came down to two plays. Two hits on which the runner was sent home after starting at first base and were out at home to end the inning. Those runners were not Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. They were Marlon Byrd and Carlos Ruiz. Now, if they'd been held at third, they also may not have scored. We don't know what would have happened. But at least there'd be another chance for them to score. Sending two slower runners home with two outs pretty much eliminates the chance of more runs scoring because the inning ends.
To be fair, the call on Marlon Byrd's journey to home base was a crock of shit, mostly because it involved a collision and no one knows what the hell the rules mean. As Marlon Byrd was barreling home, it looked to me like Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco was blocking the plate even before he had the ball. Byrd was called out, and the call was upheld after the umpires reviewed it. So was Devin Mesoraco not blocking the plate? Does "blocking the plate" have a new definition that the umpires haven't shared with us mortals? The TV broadcast mentioned several times that those rules are outlined in an eight page document, which seems really long. Unless the rules become somehow clearer the more words you use to explain and describe them, I can't imagine that length and verbosity are helpful here.
The umpires weren't too keen on sharing the reasoning behind the call. Ryne Sandberg walked out of the dugout looking unhappy but certainly not combative. As soon as he approached the umpires, two of them held up their hands like they were rehearsing "Stop! In The Name Of Love" for next weeks umpire karaoke night. Sandberg appeared to try and speak to them, and about three seconds after he opened his mouth, he was tossed from the game. That's when Sandberg got angry. He put his hands on his hips and jumped up and down and I really want an angry Ryne Sandberg bobble head. I think it would warrant one, since it was Sandberg's first career managerial ejection. Congratulations! Here's your plaque. We wish you many happy years of getting angry at oversensitive umpires.
These two tweets pretty much sum up today's game:
Everybody in Phillies clubhouse baffled at umpires' interpretation of home plate rule.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) June 7, 2014
This loss was particularly crushing. Phillies are 25-35; worst 60-game start since 2000.— Matt Gelb (@magelb) June 7, 2014
Fangraph of ARGH: